MANILA – Two-time world billiards champion Mika “Iceman” Immonen of Finland is the first player named on Team West and has also been chosen as the Captain of the West composed of Europe and the Americans against Asia’s champions (East) on Nov. 19 at the Resorts World Manila Casino & Hotel in the inaugural Kings Cup in Pasay City.
Immonen will battle his counterpart Efren “Bata” Reyes who will serve as Captain Team Asia in what surely will become the most epic rivalry in cue sports, according to Dragon Promotions owner and producer Charlie Williams.
The three-day contest from Nov. 19 to 22 will pit the men’s champions of Europe & USA versus the champions of the East in a historic inaugural match.
The timing couldn’t be better for Immonen or Team West. Mika has initiated a hot streak upon his recent wins in the past two weeks at the Black Sea Cup and the Dynamite Open, both taking place in Romania.
Immonen has ended a champion’s drought with the recent back-to-back wins in Europe.
“I’m deeply honored to be on the team. Until recently I haven’t been as visible as I would like to be on the pool wins radar, but I feel as ready as ever!” said the Finnish national hero.
When asked about the level of challenge Asia would bring in team competition, Mika replied, “Oh yeah, it’s going to be tougher than playing any USA team we ever faced.”
“The talent is not as deep anymore in the USA, I think that’s obvious from the last decade of Mosconi Cups. So it’s going to be tougher. This will be the most concentrated talent of players ever assembled. It’s going to be exciting and nerve racking. Amazing pool for sure.”
Immonen is the most experienced pool player on the team. It’s not just about all the wins he has had, which are countless, but all the losses,too. He’s gone through some of the toughest losses in the sport.
“But has always come back stronger than ever. That’s why he is on the team, and that’s why we feel he will be a great leader,” said Williams.
Williams adds, “Believe it or not, he turned down the position of captain at first and I needed to sway him!”
“Playing against Efren Reyes as captain is an obvious honor and challenge in itself,” said Immonen.
“Winning many events here in the Philippines in the past will definitely come in handy. The crowd can be a big factor, so maybe we can win some of the crowd to our side,” said Immonen. “But I have a good track record there and I’m comfortable in that environment.”
The remainder 6 players will be announced in the upcoming 2 weeks following the World 9-Ball Championship. Fans are highly anticipating the final selections. The Captains are, too.
Immonen has been named MVP in multiple major pro team competitions. Besides that, Immonen is one of the most successful players in the world, and arguably the most successful player in European history.
He was voted Player of the Decade by Billiards Digest, and has won the World 9-Ball Championship, the World 10-Ball Championship, and the first European of only two, to have won back to back US Open Championships.
Immonen has also won major titles in numerous Asian countries including the Korea International Championships, the All Japan Championships, the Philippines Open.
He was also inducted into the billiards Hall of Fame, only the second European to ever received the honor.